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Al-Ketbi, Al-Kalbani strike jiu-jitsu gold as UAE dominate at Thailand Open Grand Prix

ABU DHABI: The UAE national jiu-jitsu team have emerged overall champions at the prestigious Thailand Open Grand Prix 2023, earning an impressive 20 medals at the tournament held in Bangkok.

The team, sponsored by Mubadala Investment Company, displayed clear dominance across the two days of competition, amassing nine gold, seven silver and four bronze medals.

On the final day on Sunday, the UAE secured five medals, adding to the 15 they had already harvested on the opening day. Faisal Al-Ketbi (94-kilogram division) and Shamma Al-Kalbani (63 kilogram), the star athletes of the national squad, lived up to the high expectations and emerged victorious, claiming gold medals.

“These accomplishments are a direct result of the unwavering support from our wise leadership and the tireless efforts of the UAEJJF (UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation) led by His Excellency Abdul Munam Al-Hashemi,” Al-Ketbi said. “Their guidance has propelled us towards success, allowing us to achieve championships and establish the UAE’s global leadership in the sport.”

Saeed Al-Kubaisi (85 kilogram) and Abdullah Al-Kubaisi (94 kilogram) also contributed to the team’s success by securing silver medals. In addition, Hazaa Farhan (94 kilogram) won a bronze medal in his division.

Al-Hashemi, chairman of the UAEJJF, president of the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Union, and senior vice-president of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, praised the national side.

“The remarkable performance of the UAE national team is a clear testament to the valuable initiatives implemented by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, president of the UAE, and nurtured by His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

“Their dedicated efforts are now bearing fruit, as evidenced by the team’s success. The team’s ultimate ambition is to stand atop the podium and secure even more victories.”

“The Thailand Grand Prix tournament was a unique opportunity to measure the development in the performance of athletes before participating in the World Championships in Mongolia and the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, and they have proved to be strong contenders,” he added.

Fahad Ali Al-Shamsi, secretary-general of the UAEJJF, also praised the team. “Of the 24 athletes who participated from the UAE side, 20 have won medals. These numbers reflect the importance of (the) achievement,” he said.

“This year, the team has already achieved more than 50 medals during the first five months, starting with the Asian Championship in Bangkok, followed by the Paris Open Grand Prix and now the Thailand Open Grand Prix. We have six more international events remaining in the season, including the Asian Games and World Championships, and I can’t wait to see the UAE team shine brightly in those championships,” he added.

Gold medalist Al-Kalbani expressed her enthusiasm and motivation to continue striving for success.

“The Thailand Open Grand Prix has undoubtedly played a significant role in enhancing my technical expertise and experience,” she said. “I am deeply indebted and grateful to my coaches and teammates for their unwavering support and guidance. Their encouragement keeps me motivated to perform well, win medals, and represent our nation with pride at international events.”

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